Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Essay: Spotify and it’s affect on the music industry

 It’s alarmingly simple, making you wonder why it wasn’t available at the turn of the century, the time when Napster was striking fear into the hearts of chart-topping musicians everywhere.

So what’s changed?  The technology is easier to develop these days, but the technology was always there.  If Napster and the progeny that’s replaced it over the last 12 years could put together an easy to navigate, unlimited database of music for almost anyone to use, then why could the record companies do the same.

In defence of the record companies (in terms of business only), they were suddenly being asked why they couldn’t work together to make music cheaper and more accessible.  Obviously this costs money and time, and what if you got it wrong?  Record companies had for too long been accustomed to the same business model, which bred an inability and aversity to change. 

When Napster came along, they had no idea what to do, so they sued everyone.

Spotify is the creation of a business that is not a record company, and this is both sad and good.  It’s sad that the record companies couldn’t have created this technology years ago, but good in that the paradigm has shifted to allow new platforms to emerge.  These companies and their music innovations are young, their built upon a spirit of innovation, where risk is paramount and the rewards are few, except for those that succeed.

Maybe Spotify will go the way of many IT start-ups and be gone within a few years, it’s very possible.  Maybe they won’t, maybe their enthusiasm for creation, and their passion for new IT, creates an industry of innovation that launches us into a rich era of music culture.

With the major job losses falling at Fairfax this week, the idea of companies as connected to their audience has become more and more important.  Fail to interact with the people that use your products, and you might miss the fact that no-ones using your products at all until it’s too late (hello newspapers).

Music consumers will need to be a reflection of the record companies, if record companies are to survive.  Record companies need to change industry standards like the Iphone did, and give us new ways to interact with music (like Spotify has), and then they might just start to win us back.

In my mind, they’ve got a lot of making up to do.

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